Meet the Lichfield candidates: Ian Jackson (Liberal Democrats)

Ian Jackson. Pic: Nick Brickett

Ian Jackson. Pic: Nick Brickett

Ian Jackson is not a new face to the Lichfield political scene.

As a serving Liberal Democrat councillor for Leomansley and having picked up 15 per cent of the vote in the 2005 general election, he knows the key battlegrounds as well as anyone.

And with the boost his party have been given on the back of the televised debates, you can sense a feeling of optimism that he may improve significantly on his last performance.

A confident showing in the hustings event in the city will only have seen his stock rise among local voters.

He believes it is his links with the local community that will give voters the confidence to choose him on polling day. He explained:

“I have lived for twenty years in Lichfield and have brought up three daughters here and put them through local schools. I really feel that I am part of the community.”

Education – alongside the need for political reform – is one of the key areas Ian is hoping to fight for should he take the Lichfield constituency seat.

He said:

“Education is an issue that needs looking at. We have got to improve the primary school system to make sure there are not kids leaving school who cannot read and write.

“The Liberal Democrats treat this as a priority. Gordon Brown has been a control freak and as a result we have ended up with targets, so teachers spend too much time having to tick boxes.”

As a Lichfield resident, the effect of a potential high speed rail link on the area are not lost on the Liberal Democrat candidate.

And while many believe there will be little or no benefit to the city from the new line linking London, Birmingham and major cities in the north, Ian believes that Lichfield could be the gateway to the north Midlands on the line.

He explained:

“The rising price of oil means that in ten years time you won’t want to drive to London. There no doubt that the current proposal for the route needs to be moved.

“Many new rail links run alongside existing transport corridors, so the high speed rail line should run alongside the M6 Toll, meaning it would still come through Lichfield district.

“And a Lichfield Parkway station is the thing we need to campaign for. It would provide easy access to the A5, M42 and M6. It would also provide an enormous economic benefit and create jobs for us.”

The issue of electoral reform is – unsurprisingly perhaps – high on the agenda of the Liberal Democrat candidate.

But the system is “broken” and needs fixing, according to Ian. He added:

“There is no doubt that the political system in this country is broke. How can you have a strong Government in power on just 25 per cent of the electorate?

“The argument should not be based on what is best for which party, but what is best for voters. Proportional representation won’t restore confidence straight away, but it will be a step in the right direction.

“It’s time we changed the system.”

In areas like the ecomony, the Lichfield District councillor who is hoping to take on the role at Westminster, believes that planning too far ahead is not the answer.

And while other parties look for longer-term strategies, Ian believes the key is in crisis management. He explained:

“The Liberal Democrats will only look one year ahead because what we have is a fragile recession. We need to look longer term at the sort of industries that we sustain us after the recession.

“My party would look at green initiatives such as the bus scrappage scheme to get dirty buses off our roads. This would also create jobs for people creating bodywork and other parts for new buses.”

This green-theme to exiting recession spreads through much of the thinking behind the Liberal Democrats’ policies.

And it’s an area that Ian believes voters must consider – especially given what he considers as a slow response from the current Government.

He said:

“We need to do more, more quickly when it comes to climate change. But it is not just about Governments. As individuals we also have to look at what we can do.

“The Liberal Democrats would look to invest heavily to encourage green jobs and move on with offshore wind projects.

“The Government have talked the talk but have taken years to walk the walk.”

Although his swipe on green issues was aimed primarily at the Labour administration, it is a fight with the Tories that he is expecting in Lichfield.

With Michael Fabricant having occupied the seat since 1997, Ian knows he’ll face a tough fight if he is to upset the formbook.

However, he couldn’t help but raise a wry smile when it came to the slogan of his rival. He explained:

“I smile when I see the Conservative signs on the approach to Lichfield telling us that it’s time for a change. It’s certainly a campaign that does what it says on the tin. I looked up the word Conservative in the dictionary and it means ‘one averse to change’.

“We do need change – we need radical change though.”

And it’s clear that the Liberal Democrat isn’t playing for the runner-up spot on polling day.

As confidence spreads throughout his party while his leader rides the crest of a publicity wave, Ian admits both he – and the party – will be looking for victory.

He said:

“Have no doubt, we are going into this to win the highest proportion of the votes.”

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.